Scottsville Museum brings our town's history to life, from its beginnings as an 18th century James River settlement to its shining era as a bustling 19th century river and canal port. Additionally the Museum depicts Scottsville as a center of Civil War activity through its re-emergence as a thriving community in the 20th century. Housed inside the former Disciples of Christ Church, built in 1846, the Scottsville Museum displays permanent and rotating exhibits on James River transportation, the Civil War, Native American artifacts, school life, theater, clothing, toys, furniture and photographs.
Scottsville's history is closely linked with the James River. Originally known as Scott's Landing, the town served as a local ferry crossing and a river port for bateaux transportation on the James River. Bateaux, flat-bottomed boats laden with tobacco hogsheads, floated down the James to Richmond and returned with French and English imports, furniture, dishes, and clothing. Between 1744 and 1762, Scott's Landing enjoyed the role of legal, commercial, and social center of Albemarle County, even serving as its county seat before the General Assembly divided up the county and relocated its county seat to Charlottesville. Still Scott's Landing continued as the main river port above Richmond -- bateaux owners loaded farm products for down river trade and unloaded trade goods for the Virginia Valley.
In 1818, the town of Scottsville was incorporated at the northern most flow of the James River, an area known as the Horseshoe Bend. By then the James River Company had increased river traffic by improving the riverbed. But the river was temperamental; it dried up, flooded, and dried up again. In later years, the James River and Kanawha Canal was constructed to improve river transportation and connect Richmond with the Ohio River Valley. However, time, money, and the Civil War worked against the canal company.
During the Civil War, the James River carried supplies to the Confederacy. Many Canal workers were drafted by the Confederate Government, and a General Hospital for the Confederacy opened in Scottsville. In the last month of the war, Generals Phillip Sheridan and George Armstrong Custer captured the town, commandeering several old Southern homes as their headquarters. Their Union mission was to destroy the canal and anything that might help the Confederacy. After four days of destruction and looting, Sheridan's Army moved onward toward Appomattox. With the demise of the canal, Scottsville's economy would require more than thirty years to recover, and by the end of the 19th century, a rail line lay on top of the old canal towpath.
Today, Scottsville is a thriving community with winding streets and fine old homes. Much of the town's historical character has been preserved, and standing at the forefront of this effort is the Scottsville Museum.